I just wanted to say that I love this game, mainly for the combination of the quirky humour, the lovely and erotic graphics, and the feeling that your choices have consequences. I suppose it's more a of a choose-your-own-adventure graphic novel, but there seem lots of well-developed branches and the plots are well developed. I look forward to reaching some bad and good endings in due course.
I noticed one missing image in 0.69d, but it didn't stop gameplay since one could just ignore it:
While running game code:
Exception: DynamicImage u'/images/hs/[outfit]/[type]-[variation]-spell.png': could not find image. (u'/images/hs/looter/futa-classic-spell.png')
This is the one game that has me chuckling more often than any other I've played from the site.
I also found the backstory for Twig, and the music and accompanying images quite touching and maybe a little bit epic.
A lovely experience.
Okay, this is probably going to be a bit of a long review, so I'll give a quick TLDR, but know I specifically created an account and made some forum posts just to review this game, so that should speak volumes on its own.
TLDR; This game has a slow start, and an *EXTREMELY* unlikable main character IRL, however the online persona you spend 90% of the game with is much more charismatic, and you actually get to sort of shape their personality. Not a whole lot of actual sex scenes for a porn game, and they're not really animated, but the writing once the creator started to catch their stride starts to get really good. Like, better than any other game I've played on this site, and I've played A LOT of them. It has its quirks, as most games on this site do, and some genuinely cringe moments, especially the overused Seinfield-esque "We're both idiots misunderstanding each other and prattling on for way too long about it" ""jokes"" that keep happening (I use that term extremely loosely) but the writing, breadth, and dedication to the CYOA-style gameplay is so well done it absolutely makes up for it.
straight up 8.5/10 game IMO
Now, I downloaded this game for the first time a year and a half ago, played it for 10 minutes, and immediately uninstalled. I straight up hated it. The "nerd" character was abrasive to say the least (there's even an off-handed comment later in the game that implies they're autistic, and I just find that to be in poor taste as an actually autistic person, because their behavior is more like a bonafide sociopath than an autistic person) I mean... seriously, every interaction the character has in real-life is BAD. Just, genuinely downright terrible. It's almost the entire reason I give this game less than a 9. If you've played it, you know what I'm talking about, and it makes no sense to me how there seems to be little to zero character development in the IRL player by the time they meet Jane/Janie. Like, I sat there feeling genuinely terrible while the main character berates and insults practically everyone they interact with. Like, saying "fuck you" for no reason to the burger girl. WHY? I gave the game a second chance because I saw I could play with the "nerdette" Simone, thinking it would be better, and it *kiiind* of was? I guess? But still, it was really bad. If I had one serious recommendation for the creator of this game, it would be to make simon/simone more like an actual person, than this like... idk, trope of anxiety and bitterness?
I'm gonna stop there on that subject, because I could write an entire essay about how that character could've been written better, and how their depiction is almost insulting to people who are similar to the stereotype depicted, but it seems to me all the game's focus was elsewhere and the creator just went with whatever they felt would move the plot forward and justify the moments Sparkle is like "no, no, I'm terrible with people" even though she's a social butterfly and just never gave it a second thought.
Now, once you get into the actual swing of the game, probably around act 3 or 4, it starts to get really engrossing. All the characters in the game world are well-fleshed-out, and have strengths/flaws you can identify with and latch onto as a reader. There are easter eggs, references to popular media, and call-backs to previous encounters that really make this game shine and make you feel like your decisions as a player matter, which is what I play games like this for, really.
I particularly enjoy the multiple different routes you can take with different characters, which not only allows you to choose who you'd like to pursue, and never forces you into a non-consensual sexual situation without repeatedly telegraphing it and giving you a chance to avoid it, but also lets you build a muthafukin harem if you play your cards right, with some of the most attractive characters in the game. (I hope the newer updates allow you to include Harmony in this dynamic, as it seems the later acts sort of conflate being able to be with Panki/Lel and Skylark with being with Harmony as well, even though you expressly are given permission by Panki to be with her. Just seems like a missed opportunity, and I also find it confusing how Harmony seems to get left out of dialogue frequently even though she's SUPER entertaining to listen to speak, seems very wise and insightful, and will sometimes just be... standing there while everyone else keeps talking)
The game gives you a lot more options for customization now than it did when I originally played as well. You can be a futa, trap, or regular ol' healslut, and knowing which you're getting is straightforward and changable. You can even use the redhead "backup" model (my personal fave) although it will sometimes glitch a scene (especially on the pirate ship with the blanket or sword). You even choose your spells, which have different situational advantages/disadvantages, and if you choose the fairy spell, you can customize that a bit too. Very very nice attention to detail there.
Overall, I'd really recommend this game to anyone who likes the long-form more plot-driven games, especially those that enjoy CYOA RPG elements. Just don't expect a lot of graphic sex scenes. I honestly expected more of them from a game where most people are partially nude, and my guess would be that a lot of them only really appear on the "free-use" path, which is just too rapey for me to stomach, but still... More harem content please!
A game that really grows on you.
I think the game makes a particularly bad first impression. The main character in his real-world form is extremely unlikable. He's immature, homophobic, just an all-round snivelling loser. This game also has an inordinate fondness for questionably funny "Tweedledee & Tweedledum" style comedic bits that go on and on, which takes time to get used to.
But once you start getting deeper into the story, a lot of the annoyances fade away as the generally high quality of the writing asserts itself. Your party members are all interesting and often endearing and Sparkle, the MC's enforced in-game persona (the titular healslut), is much more likable, personality- as well as appearance-wise. There's also bits of genuinely clever meta writing later on that I don't want to spoil.
And of course, the strongest part of the game is the premise itself, that of being a healslut in a VR MMO. I'm particularly enamoured with the free-use path. I think a lot of games that promise non-con/reluctant content tend to cop out of actually delivering on the premise - usually, if you insist you don't want it, they allow you to back out. But here, if you make a key decision at one point in the story (it's abundantly telegraphed), the right to refuse is taken away from you from that point on. You can continue to withhold verbal consent and insist you're not into it (that is the fantasy) and your party members will ignore your protests and 'force' you into sexual situations anyway. That's great. It's a perfect distillation of the appeal of the submissive healslut fantasy, at least for me.
VRMMO future many of us hope is here, along with the queer transformation of us into the opposite sex... sure, the MC is a little bit "strange", but the graphics are great, the story is interesting, and the choices matter... Originally I really hated the MC, but over the years I've developed a new appreciation for these different and weird characters that seem to make the dumbest choices. Instead of having a 300IQ strat to take over the world, let the story take you into its warm embrace, even if it's in a place you never expected it to go. Hell, sometimes the journey is more important than the ending, and since there currently isn't an ending, let's just enjoy the story. Great work to the author by the way, a truly high-end production.
The game is a clickfest with a protaganist that is very unlikeable, and hinting at them being autistic feels like a disservice to actual autistic people. This game obviously isn't for me but there's still been a lot of effort put into it, and I commend the author for that. Very nice renders too.